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Soldering gold to argentium


#1

Hi Orchid, I know there was a thread regarding the soldering of gold
to sterling earlier this month but the subject of gold and argentium
soldering was just touched on at the end, so I thought I’d bring it
back for further discussion. I have been soldering 14 and 18k yellow
bezels into cast argentium pieces with mostly good success though I
find that the solder must often be coaxed into the seam with a hot
pick. It seems like argentium alone has this issue as well, the
solder will just ball up and sit there until you touch it with the
pick and then it must be drawn into the seam with heat from the other
side. Anyway I was wondering how many of you out there are soldering
gold to argentium and what are the issues you have had?


#2

I have not had the issue that you are describing soldering gold to
argentium or sterling, which I do both. One thing I do, though, is
that I use boric acid and alcohol along with battens flux. When I
apply the solder, I paint it on with my flux brush when the piece is
hot, so the solder does not jump (some times have to coax back into
original spot it too much flux displaces). I think if solder is not
flowing it has oxidized from exposure to torch flame; can still ball
up. Helps to flux the solder incase of contact with direct heat. I
like to use gold solder when soldering gold, but if I need to use
silver solder, I do not use hard as it needs to be heated too hot
for the argentium.

Melissa


#3

Hi Doug,

I solder and fuse gold to Argentium Silver (18K or higher K works
best for fusing to AS—soldering is best for 14K.). When doing
soldering any metal, including AS, I often find that using my
soldering pick to help get the capillary action going is helpful. It
often seems that the surface has been depleted of the
lower-melting-temp metals, and that breaking the surface allows the
molten metal trapped inside to flow. (I don’t know if this is what
is actually happening, but that is how it seems to me.) In my
experience, if the solder balls up and “sits there”, that means that
the torch is focused too much on the solder, and not enough on the
metal around the solder.

Cynthia Eid
http://www.cynthiaeid.com


#4

Hello Orchidland,

Cynthia Eid IS the AS guru, so I hesitate to add to her comments.
However (famous last word!), I will share what has worked well for
me when soldering 14KY to AS.

(NOTE: although I follow the same procedure with standard sterling,
I can’t claim the same success rate.)

I always file a flat spot on the gold piece so that it has good
contact with the AS. Then I put Battern’s flux on the joint between
AS and gold. Next I “tin” that filed area on the gold with AS solder.
Lastly, warm the flux so that it froths up and then settles down,
leaving a whitish film on the AS side of the joint. Place the
"tinned" side on the flux film (on the AS), and heat until the solder
flows. Focus the heat on the AS part of the joint - less heat on the
gold.

We know that hot AS is brittle, but the gold can stand some
manipulation if necessary. Using this procedure, I have not had any
problems with the gold sinking into the AS… however, I really
watch the solder and remove the torch immediately upon flow. Perhaps
our metallurgically gifted members can explain why AS is more
forgiving than standard sterling in this regard. I’d like to think
I’ve just gotten REALLY good at soldering gold to silver, but somehow
I suspect there’s more than skill to my success!! :slight_smile:

Judy in Kansas, where paradise continues with frequent rains and
moderate temps. THIS CANNOT be Kansas in July! Oh yes, finally have
tomatoes ripening - YUM.


#5

I just started soldering 18K to argentium and had no trouble with it.
In most of the cases I am placing a flat gold design on the silver. I
always tin the gold piece before joining them and that seemed to work
well for the argentium. Although I noticed it was alittle more
difficult to “see” the flash for some reason. Upon further inspection
the pieces soldered down just fine. In general what I am finding is
that the argentium gives me slightly different feedback during most
operations but it is similar enough to regular sterling to work
pretty well. Also, just a note, I tried argentium ear wires on a
friend with very sensitive ears -the kind that can only wear high
karat gold-- and she did not have any trouble with them.

Mary Barker
Foggy Mountain Designs


#6

Thanks for the thoughts, I will try “tinning” or “sweating” or
whatever term you choose, when possible, though I am often setting
the gold bezel into a tightly fitted hole that would preclude having
solder around the bezel in order to fit. Though I suppose I could
tin the bezel first, before making its little home. Usually I make
the bezel first, then melt it into the wax and carefully withdraw it
to make a perfectly fitted hole (minus a little filing for shrinkage)
for the bezel before I cast the piece. With fine silver bezels I
sometimes leave the bezel in the wax and cast it inplace, I only
tried once with 14k and got a real mess. Anyway this has given me
some ideas to improve my soldering, ten years now and I’m still
learning, hope I never stop.

Thanks again,
Doug in Alaska